It was a gorgeous day for a swim. We met at the Grosse Pt. Yacht club at 6:45 a.m. and Captain Mike welcomed us on board. We headed out to wait for our jet ski support team near Gull Island. Around 8 a.m. we saw not one, not two, but four jet skis heading towards us from the south. We were thrilled to have such tremendous support from Bill, his wife Diane, and their pals Scott and Sam. This was going to be a good day.
Ric took the plunge first and four of us followed his lead. I wore a yellow swim cap and stayed close to Bill, on a yellow jet ski which I named "Bumblebee." The water temperature at the start was 74 degrees, and the air temp was close to 80 degrees. When we jumped, it was like jumping into a blender. It was quite choppy with southwest winds five to 15 knots. I stuck to the English Channel rules and never touched the jet ski or boat for assistance. My friend tossed my water bottles into me and I swam to them. I did keep a bottle on the jet ski, so in case I got further ahead of the boat, I had some nutrition close by. The plan was for me to stay with Bill and every hour or so the boat and other jet skis would pick up the other swimmers and they would catch up and exchange swimmers. I would swim the whole way and the others would take hour shifts or more.
Around the two or three hour mark, my lower back was really bothering me so I asked for some Motrin on the next boat feed, an hour from then. The wind started to pick up and at times when I raised my right arm for a stroke, it would smack into a wave, and never make a full cycle. So I would humbily put it back and try again. So focused on maintaining my stroke, an hour went by in what seemed like 10 minutes. When it was time for the guys to swap in fresh bodies, I swam over to the boat, and my feeder handed me a green plastic cup. I thought, "yeah, Sportbeans" and tipped back the cup and started chewing. They weren't Sportbeans. Grossed out at the taste, I yelled, "What am I eating? My feeder replied, "You asked for Motrin." Yes I did. Learned something for the next swim... remind swimmer what's in the cup. She wishes she had a camera in her hand, to photograph the tiny orange pieces of Motrin that were stuck to my lips.
At the four hour mark, I was ready to overheat. The water temperature, heading south, was much warmer and the air temperature was nearing the upper 80s. I knew I wasn't taking in enough liquids and I was getting frustrated. The winds picked up again, but around that time, I could finally make out the tower of the Grosse Point Yacht Club, which looked to be glowing on shore in the distance. We finished our swim for Cystic Fibrosis, just outside the seawall. When we finished the water tempature was a steamy 85 degrees and Rickie asked if he could get in and cool off. He did a few cool cannonballs with a huge grin spread across his face.
Thanks to the navigational support by our jet ski and boat team, we finished this year's swim in six hours. Last year we were in the water for 8 hours and 40 minutes. After the swim, we shared a nice lake view and post-swim meal at Brownie's on the Lake, where we toasted the jet skiers, Captain Mike, and I was toasted for getting the guys to the bar three hours early.
If you would like to learn more or donate, please visit Ric's blog Swimming St. Clair.